New Release: Egyptian revolutions in history, by Hussein Nassar

Ahram Online, Sunday 15 Apr 2012

New volume documents the revolutions of the first three centuries after Islam's entry to Egypt, dividing them into bloody revolutions, economic revolutions, Coptic revolutions and 'white revolutions'

Al-Thawarat Al-Sha3beya fi masr Al-Islameya (Popular Revolutions in Islamic Egypt) by Hussein Nassar, Cairo: General Organisation for Cultural Palaces, 2012. 112pp.

Although common history doesn't speak much of the revolutions in Egypt's history, Egyptians have often taken to the street in mass protest, including under the rule of Islam. A new book by Hussein Nassar now tracks the unfolding of some of these revolutions, during the first three centuries of Islam's introduction to Egypt, The first of these happened during the early days of the battles between the Alawites and the Umayyads that evolved in the first century of Hijgra, and Egyptians sided mostly with Alawites, although some also took the Umayyad side.

The book also records the history of unrest due to economic reasons, mainly the high taxation that was forced predominently on Copts who were owners of the majority of the land during these centuries, tracking the tension between the ruler whenever he requested additional taxes and organised land owners and peasants. Often the Khalifa himself had to intervene to stop the bloodshed. Nassar also records the famous Bashmouri Revolution that, for the first time, included both Muslims and Christians rising against the ruler of Egypt in the name of justice and fair taxation.

Nassar's volume also records revolutions that have been largely passed over by historical research. One form of revolt highlighted are what the writer terms "white revolutions" — conditions where Egyptians simply refused to cooperate, including cases of refusing to submit to the orders of rulers.

Nassar indicates a lack of referenced material has limited our knowledge of the history of revolts in Egypt. He was keen to document whatever he could find, noting contradictory interpretations and histories also.

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